Monday, December 21, 2009

Gift opening fun

On Saturday night, we opened gifts with the kids. This is the first year we have had a tree up, and I think it is also the first year we have bought any presents for the kids! I know, a little Scrooge-ish, but believe me, they haven't been suffering.

Here are a few pictures of our gift giving "bonanza". Thankfully Papa and Grandma left a few gifts here this summer for all of us to open or there would have been a total of 4 presents under the tree (and one of those was something my mom sent earlier this month!)

Here's Jori opening the new Noah's Ark that I picked up at a consignment sale, oh about 3 years ago...

Tyson opening some tapes, and a DVD from Papa and Grandma.
Thanks Pop and Gram
Opening my hand crafted bracelet from my mom. Darin got a really nice indoor thermometer that measures the outdoor temperature. Very handy for the cold Michigan winter!
Finally, here are a couple videos. Both of them happen to be of Jori opening gifts that ONLY had her name on them, which Tyson was not too happy about. He only had one Tyson only gift, Connect 4, which he thinks is great fun, but it is only ONE thing. Just listen for all their Christmas spirit!

Wii Boxing

We have been having more fun with the Wii. Tyson and Jori boxed for the first time and it was pretty funny. Here are some videos:

He is one serious boxer.

Jump Spin!

Check out her little wiggle.

Friday, December 18, 2009

Advent Week 4

Can you believe it is almost Christmas day?? Here are the last week of Advent scriptures, activities and prayers. I have loved hearing my kids say "Jesus is the light of the world" and repeat what each candle means as we light them each day. We have not done many of the activities, but I still feel thankful to have added more meaning to this season of waiting for our whole family.

Fourth Sunday: Love
Sunday, December 20 – Open box #21
light all four candles - Hope, Peace, Joy and Love

Read Isaiah 9:6-7
6 For to us a child is born,
to us a son is given,
and the government will be on his shoulders.
And he will be called
Wonderful Counselor, [a] Mighty God,
Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace.
7 Of the increase of his government and peace
there will be no end.
He will reign on David's throne
and over his kingdom,
establishing and upholding it
with justice and righteousness
from that time on and forever.
The zeal of the LORD Almighty
will accomplish this.

The fourth candle (purple or blue) "CANDLE OF LOVE" symbolizes Christ love. God sent His only Son to earth to save us, because He loves us!
John 3:16-17
16"For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son,[a] that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. 17For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.

Monday, December 21 – Open Box #22
Verse : 1 John 4:7-19
God's Love and Ours
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[a] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[b] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him. 17In this way, love is made complete among us so that we will have confidence on the day of judgment, because in this world we are like him. 18There is no fear in love. But perfect love drives out fear, because fear has to do with punishment. The one who fears is not made perfect in love.
19We love because he first loved us.

Activity: Make Cheerio Christmas Trees – Read the Legend of the Christmas Tree by Rick Osborne or go here for some ideas of the First Christmas tree
Prayer: If there is any source of joy for us this Christmas, let it come from the WHOLE life which Jesus lived and gave FOR US! Let God's great love bring you joy and peace as we celebrate the beginning of His work here on earth
God, I need your love. I celebrate the love You so freely offer. I accept the gift of your love and thank you for its transforming power in my heart. I love you, Father, and celebrate your presence and power in my life. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

Tuesday, December 22 – Open box #23
Verse: Matthew 28:19-20
19Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in[a] the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age."

Activity: Take the opportunity, if you can, to print out some of these discussion starters to use during a meal or snack time or maybe after a Christmas reading. Some are fun and light; some are more thoughtful. I've tried to make them appropriate for many ages and you can take as much time with them as you like. Cut them out, fold once, put in a hat or box and then take turns pulling them out! Enjoy!
Prayer: We've learned a LOT this Advent season! As we wind down to the birth of Jesus and our family celebrations, now is a great time to discuss and reflect on some of the ways that all of this anticipation has played a part in these past few weeks.

New!Advent and Christmas Discussion Starters!

Wednesday, December 23 – Open box #24
Verse: John 9:4-5
4As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me. Night is coming, when no one can work. 5While I am in the world, I am the light of the world."
Matthew 5:14-16 14"You are the light of the world. A city on a hill cannot be hidden. 15Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. 16In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven.

Activity: Write a letter to Jesus and instead of asking Him for gifts, tell Him what you would like to give Him in the coming New Year. Gifts such as being nicer to your brothers and sisters, obeying your parents, studying your Bible, praying every day, and most of all loving Him with all your heart.

Thursday, December 24 – Open box #25
Verse: John 8:12
12When Jesus spoke again to the people, he said, "I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will never walk in darkness, but will have the light of life."

Draw a picture of a pretty package and label it "The Greatest Gift Comes from Above." Hang this picture on your bedroom door for a reminder of the Gift in Jesus.
Decorate a birthday cake for Jesus and sing happy birthday to Him on Christmas Eve.
Prayer: Dear God,
What a beautiful world you have made for me. Thank you God for creating the stars and the moon and everything else in the world. Thank you God for making me and giving me the GREATEST GIFT of baby Jesus. Help me to remember Jesus tonight and to remember that HE is the reason for Christmas. I know you loved me God because of this special present you sent me in a manger. I love you too and I thank you for this special birthday that I am celebrating tonight. I may be leaving Santa some cookies tonight Jesus, but I am leaving you something much better! I am leaving my heart and my love for you Jesus! Merry Christmas God and Happy Birthday Jesus!

Friday, December 25 – CHRISTMAS DAY
The fifth candle (white) "CHRIST CANDLE" symbolizes the incarnation, the heart and reason of the season, God giving light to the world. Its location is in the center as Christ’s light is central and radiant. This reminds us that Jesus is the spotless Lamb of God, sent to wash away our sins! (in wreaths that have 4 candles, it is in the circle among the rest of the candles)
Verses: Psalm 100

Revelation 3:20-21

His birth was for his death; his death was for our birth!
John 1:29
29The next day John saw Jesus coming toward him and said, "Look, the Lamb of God, who takes away the sin of the world!
John 3
1Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a member of the Jewish ruling council. 2He came to Jesus at night and said, "Rabbi, we know you are a teacher who has come from God. For no one could perform the miraculous signs you are doing if God were not with him."
3In reply Jesus declared, "I tell you the truth, no one can see the kingdom of God unless he is born again.[a]"
4"How can a man be born when he is old?" Nicodemus asked. "Surely he cannot enter a second time into his mother's womb to be born!"
5Jesus answered, "I tell you the truth, no one can enter the kingdom of God unless he is born of water and the Spirit. 6Flesh gives birth to flesh, but the Spirit[b] gives birth to spirit. 7You should not be surprised at my saying, 'You[c] must be born again.' 8The wind blows wherever it pleases. You hear its sound, but you cannot tell where it comes from or where it is going. So it is with everyone born of the Spirit."
To you, O Lord, I lift my soul. Show me your paths and teach me to follow;
guide me by your truth and instruct me. (Psalm 25)


Thursday, December 17, 2009

Tyson's Christmas Party

Today was Tyson's kindergarten Christmas party. Jori and I stopped in to see his class perform the holiday version of "Brown Bear, Brown Bear". It was cute. I am not sure what was up with him today, but he does look kind of sad in these pictures. I asked if he wanted to come home with me, but he said he was fine. Kind of makes my heart hurt thinking about him and wondering what is going on in his little head.

Here is Tyson as one of the "yellow stars":

I found some of his artwork in the hallway. I love that I can now tell what his pictures are supposed to be! Last year it was a guessing game. If you look close, you can read his name at the bottom of the paper.

Wednesday, December 16, 2009

We like to Wii

Well, we finally have a Wii. I was holding out for a treadmill, but Darin still is not convinced I would use it often enough to be worth the cost. We had some gift money from last year that we wanted to use for something special, not just to pay the bills, so when my friend Sarah told us about a great deal on the Wii, we decided to go for it. So far, we are happy with our decision. The kids LOVE to play the Wii, and watching them play is quite entertaining for us as well. Tyson has shown great skill at bowling (he even bowled a 129 with NO help!) and Jori has managed to hit the baseball a few times.

Darin and I have been having fun competing against one another in tennis, baseball, bowling and golf. He finds great pleasure laughing at my boxing skills, while I enjoy finding his weak spot (the slider pitch) and using it against him whenever possible. It turns out that I am attracted to a man with a MUCH younger Wii fit age. Now, as a disclaimer, this is NOT the Wii fit age that you get from the Wii Fit system, where you put in your height, weight and they test your balance and all that stuff. This is the Wii fit age that you get off of Wii Sports, where you do a little bowling, a little tennis and a little baseball. Now that I have made my disclaimer, I will admit that while my 32 year old husband has a Wii fit age of 23, I, his 31 year old wife, has the ripe old Wii fit age of 80. Yes, 80. Pathetic, I know, but I can only get younger, right?

Enjoy watching a few clips of the kids the first time we let them play.

White Chicken Chili

Here is another recipe from my college roomie, Sarah. I tweaked the recipe a little bit and used leftover Thanksgiving turkey and homemade turkey broth, and it turned out just fine. The first time I made 1/2 a batch and that was just enough for our family to eat one meal. We all loved it, except for Jori, our in house food critic. She did not like the beans. Oh well.

White Chicken (or Turkey) Chili

1 lb chicken breast cut into 1/2 inch cubes (Or whatever turkey or chicken you have on hand!)
1 medium onion, chopped
1 1/2 tsp garlic powder (I used minced garlic)
1 Tbsp vegetable oil
1 can chicken broth
2 cans (15 oz each) Great Northern Beans
1 or 2 cans chopped green chilies
1 tsp salt
1 tsp ground cumin or coriander
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp cayenne pepper (Sarah leaves this out, I added maybe 1/8 tsp)
1 cup sour cream
1/2 cup whipping cream

Saute onion, garlic, (and chicken if it needs to cook) in oil. Add beans, broth, chilies, and seasonings. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer uncovered for 30 minutes. Stir in sour cream and whipping cream.

We served it with cheese and tortilla chips on top. YUM!

Saturday, December 12, 2009

Advent-Week 3

The third candle (pink or rose) "CANDLE OF JOY" means the angels sang a message of JOY! (Luke 2 7-15)

Sunday, December 13 – open box #14
Verse: Matthew 2:7-8
7Then Herod called the Magi secretly and found out from them the exact time the star had appeared. 8He sent them to Bethlehem and said, "Go and make a careful search for the child. As soon as you find him, report to me, so that I too may go and worship him."
Today you lit the 3rd candle which is the candle of JOY that Jesus is coming soon. Have you ever thought of JOY this way before
Jesus Others Yourself
If you put Jesus first, others second and yourself last, you will experience true JOY this Christmas season! Celebrate and feel the JOY that comes from knowing Christ!
Have everyone in your family take turns sharing something about themselves that they think makes God joyful. It can be difficult to get started...sometimes we don't want to think about the good in ourselves. But our salvation in Jesus makes us ABLE to please God and it helps to remember that the good in us is His Holy Spirit working inside us. When God sees even the smallest bit of HIS goodness reflected back to Him from us, He rejoices! And, as Jesus shares in Luke 15, "In the same way, I tell you, there is rejoicing in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Prayer: Don’t forget to keep doing your prayer chain – also pray that we can Celebrate and feel the JOY that comes from knowing Christ!

Monday, December 14 – open box #15
Verse: Matthew 2:9
9After they had heard the king, they went on their way, and the star they had seen in the east[e] went ahead of them until it stopped over the place where the child was.
Christmas caroling and sing JOYFULLY to the Lord
Fruit Loop Garland
This is much easier for children to handle than a needle and popcorn and it turns out much prettier. All you do is string fruit loops on ribbon or string until you have enough to go on your tree. You can either do one long string or give each child their own piece and then tie them together. The end effect is like a huge one of those edible candy necklaces I used to get when I was a little girl!!

Tuesday, December 15 – open box #16
Verse: Matthew 2:10-11
10When they saw the star, they were overjoyed. 11On coming to the house, they saw the child with his mother Mary, and they bowed down and worshiped him. Then they opened their treasures and presented him with gifts of gold and of incense and of myrrh.
Activity: Because I know we all had great intentions to do all the activities – use this day to catch up or finish the ones you may not have done or finished

Wednesday, December 16 – open box #17
Verse: Matthew 2:12-15
12And having been warned in a dream not to go back to Herod, they returned to their country by another route.
The Escape to Egypt
13When they had gone, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream. "Get up," he said, "take the child and his mother and escape to Egypt. Stay there until I tell you, for Herod is going to search for the child to kill him." 14So he got up, took the child and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, 15where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had said through the prophet: "Out of Egypt I called my son."
Activity: Go see a live nativity as a family

Thursday, December 17 – open box #18
Verse: Galatians 4:4-5
But when the time had fully come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, born under law, 5to redeem those under law, that we might receive the full rights of sons.
Make Your Own Wrapping Paper This is a fun and easy craft that only takes paper, paint or ink pads and some creative materials for stamping images onto your paper! Kids really enjoy wrapping a gift in their own homemade paper. You can use butcher paper, freezer paper, tissue paper, brown paper from a grocery bag, newsprint or newspaper or even scraps of fabric. Here are some ideas for making a print on your paper:

-Sponge paint over the entire paper or in a pattern.
-Dip string or yarn in paint and lay it on the paper in a swirling patter (or in lines, whatever you like). Let it sit for a few seconds and then carefully lift up the string, leaving the pattern on your paper.
-Cut and apple, orange or other fruit/vegetable in half and use as a stamp. Gold or silver paint looks especially nice!
-Stamp with store-bought rubber stamps or make your own with a potato.
-Use silk holly leaves (or other leaves, flowers, etc.) as a stamp, with ink or paint.
-Dip baby (or mini) mittens in paint and use as a stamp.
-Carefully splatter paint by flicking it off the end of a paintbrush or dipping a drinking straw in paint and then blowing it out onto the paper (NOT for little ones and make sure you use a drop cloth!)
-Use a pretty metallic marker and simply write a Christmas message over and over in a pattern on the paper
-Glue torn pieces of multi-colored tissue paper in a pattern or all over the paper to make it look like stained glass
-Paint your paper in a solid color. Allow it to dry and then paint over top with another color. After the second color has dried, crumple up the paper and then smooth out...the bottom color shows through in a wonderful pattern!
-Use stickers!
-Glue doilies of different sizes onto your paper (colored paper is especially good) or cut out paper snowflakes to glue on.
-Experiment with other materials: crayons, markers, puffy paint, chalk (spray with hair spray afterwards to ), glitter glue, stencils or...? Use your imagination!
-Make a popcorn and cranberry garland design on your paper by stamping with packing peanuts (in white) and alternating with a round shape (in red). You can use a cranberry cut in half for the round shape if you like.
*These ideas can be used on gift bags as well!

Friday, December 18 – open box #19
Verse: Ephesians 2:8-9
8For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— 9not by works, so that no one can boast.
Activity: Family Night – Talk about the bible verses, activities, and prayers that you have done over the past three weeks – What was your favorite? What have you learned?
Put your feet up, make some hot tea or cocoa, snuggle with your kids and/or hubby under a blanket and take a break!
Prayer – Have your kids say a prayer – help them think of things to pray for – encourage them – show them

Saturday, December 19 – Open box #20
Verse: 1 John 4:7-16
7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love. 9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[a] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[b] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us.
13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. 14And we have seen and testify that the Father has sent his Son to be the Savior of the world. 15If anyone acknowledges that Jesus is the Son of God, God lives in him and he in God. 16And so we know and rely on the love God has for us.
God is love. Whoever lives in love lives in God, and God in him.

Bake cookies and give to local pantry (we are giving them to a place called Trillium Woods – a place using hospice – (explain what hospice is all about) the cookies are for the family members who visit the cafeteria.)
Best Ever Sugar Cookies
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 teaspoon baking soda
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1 cup butter, softened
1 1/2 cups white sugar
1 egg
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
Directions: Preheat oven to 375 degrees F (190 degrees C). In a small bowl, stir together flour, baking soda, and baking powder. Set aside. In a large bowl, cream together the butter and sugar until smooth. Beat in egg and vanilla. Gradually blend in the dry ingredients. Roll rounded teaspoonfuls of dough into balls, and place onto ungreased cookie sheets. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in the preheated oven, or until golden. Let stand on cookie sheet two minutes before removing to cool on wire racks.
Or use Pillsbury Sugar cookies – roll it out with a roller and cut your own shapes
Let God's great love bring you joy and peace.

Monday, December 7, 2009

Sarah's Caramel Corn and Michelle's Curry Butternut Squash Soup

A strange combo, I know, but I wanted to get both recipes on here before I forgot.

My college roomie (and fellow social work major and one time co-worker) Sarah sent me the recipe for her DELICIOUS caramel corn. Seriously, it was so good. One of my favorite things about it was that there were hardly any husks because she used popcorn that her parents grew. So fun.

Caramel Corn

1/2 cup light-colored corn syrup
1 tablespoon light molasses
1 cup packed brown sugar
1/3 cup butter
1/2 tsp. baking soda
1 1/2 tsp. vanilla extract
1/2 tsp. salt
12 cups popped popcorn (plain, not buttered or salted)

*Preheat oven to 250.
*Coat large jelly roll pan with cooking spray.
*Combine sugar, corn syrup, butter and molasses in a medium saucepan; bring to a boil over medium heat.
*Cook 5 minutes, stirring once. Remove from heat; stir in vanilla, baking soda, and salt.
*Place popcorn in a large bowl; pour sugar mixture over popcorn in a steady stream, stirring to coat.
*Spread popcorn into prepared pan. Bake at 250 for 1 hours, stirring every 15 minutes.
*Remove from oven; stir to break up any large clumps. Cool 15 minutes. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Curry Butternut Squash Soup
1 butternut squash
1 onion, chopped
1 tsp. butter or oil
1 tsp. curry powder
2 c. chicken broth
4 c. water
1/3 cup evaporated milk (optional, but I think it adds a
nice creamy texture)
Salt and pepper

This step can be done ahead of time and refrigerated:
Cut squash in half, removeseeds and place face down
in a 9x13 pan, put about 1/2 inch of water in pan so
edges of squash are all covered. Put in 425 oven for
30-60 minutes (depends on size of squash - the skin
will get browned and bubbly and the squash is done when
you can easily press it in from the outside - check the
thickest part up at the top to know for sure). Let cool
slightly and scoop out all the squash, being careful not
to get the skin (beware your fingers will turn orange).

In Dutch oven (or whatever pan you'll cook the soup in)
saute onion in butter for 5 minutes, until translucent.
Put squash, onion and curry through blender/food
processor and puree. Put back on stove and add rest of
ingredients. Simmer until heated through and blended all together.

I just made a batch of this soup today. I plan on eating it for lunch, so I froze it in little butter tubs. The perfect size for 1 person! I used 2 squash on Michelle's recommendation and unless your squash is like monster sized, you should do the same. I used homemade turkey stock with an extra bullion cube thrown in for good measure and only 2 cups of water. I already had a small bowl and thought it was quite delicious. No one else in my family will like it, which is perfect because I wasn't planning on sharing with them anyways!

Sunday, December 6, 2009

Church Christmas Program

Tonight Tyson and Jori were both in the Christmas program at church. It was everything a church Christmas program should be-loud, chaotic, crying kids... Honestly it was just perfect. Jori was so excited for HER turn to be on stage.

Here are some pics of the hordes of children during practice on Saturday and also tonight as they waited with some volunteers, who I am sure are very tired right now!
Little Lambs (2-3 year olds)Jori climbing out of the window
Wonder Years (4 years-1st grade)
Here are some video clips. Tyson is wearing a black shirt, brown pants and has on a pair of gray donkey ears. Jori is in a brown dress with pink pants underneath. There are a lot of videos, but they are all pretty short. 1. Away in a Manger 2. I am the star... 3. I am the donkey soft and gray, I carried His mother from far away (this was Tyson's group) 4. Jori walking out 5. We three Kings (at the very end, Tyson raises his hand then says "I have to go to the bathroom")
6. Go tell it on the Mountain

We are so thankful for our church! We definitely know that they want "the little children" to come to HIM and they do so much to make that possible!

Saturday, December 5, 2009

Appetizers and Pineapple Pretzel Salad

I had such a wonderful night last night with my college friends. We had our annual Christmas party. Last year we had a book exchange, which started my obsession with Frank Peretti books. This year we exchanged kitchen and other random household items. I am the proud new owner of a spatula, a cheese grater thing with two grating lids and a plastic lid for storage, a set of metal bowls with lids, and some Tupperware containers identical to the ones I gave away earlier in the year (and no, these weren't the same ones that I had given!) I already put the Tupperware and spatula to good use tonight when I made chocolate chip cookies, which you can make following the recipe in this post.

For the party last night we decided to make appetizers instead of a big meal. My friend Tracey made a really good bruschetta and I am hoping she passes the recipe on soon and I Sarah made THE BEST caramel corn, but even though she animatedly told us the whole recipe (with motions and everything) I did not write it down. So I'll have to post those later. Here are the recipes I do have:

First is Philly Cheese Pizza Dip, from my good friend Jenny.

1 8 oz package cream cheese, softened
1/2 cup pizza sauce
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
2 Tbsp grated Parmesan cheese
2 Tbsp each red and green peppers
1 tsp Italian seasoning

Spread cream cheese onto bottom of a microwaveable 9 inch pie plate. Cover with pizza sauce and top with remaining ingredients. Microwave on high for 2 minutes or until heated through. Serve with Ritz crackers. Makes 2 cups.

Next is a recipe that I grew up with. I call it Auntie Pat's Bacon Wrapped Hot Dogs.
1 small bottle of yellow mustard
1 pound (2 cups) brown sugar
Ball Park Jumbo beef franks

Preheat oven to 350. Cut hot dogs into 3 or 4 equal pieces (depending on what hot dogs you use). Cut bacon in half lengthwise and width wise. Wrap each piece of hot dog in bacon and put in a baking dish seam side down. Mix together mustard and brown sugar. Pour over the top (I dumped it all on, even though it seemed like a lot of extra. It cooks down quite a bit). Bake for 1 hour at 350.

I halved the recipe and used regular hot dogs (sorry girls, it's all I had!) They were just as good as I remembered them being.

Finally I have a recipe from my mother in law. She served it last Christmas and I loved it. However, I am the only one in my family who liked it so I couldn't make it until last night when I had people coming over with tastes similar to mine.

Pineapple Pretzel Salad (could almost be a dessert)

8 oz. Cream Cheese
8 oz. Cool Whip
1/2 cup sugar
20 oz. Crushed Pineapple (juice too)
Mix together and refrigerate
2 cups crushed pretzels
1/2 cup melted/soft butter
1/2 cup sugar
Cream butter & sugar. Add pretzels and stir. Bake 7 minutes at 300 degrees. Cool and store
in ziplock/bowl until ready to serve, then add to other ingredients.

I would combine the cream cheese and whip cream first to make sure you get all the lumps out of the cream cheese. I did not do this and definitely ate a few cream cheese lumps. It was still good and I am excited to eat my leftovers tonight!

Friday, December 4, 2009

Advent-Week 2

Lia came through again! Here is week 2. Again, after each date it says "open box". Information on the boxes can be found here . There are verses to be read each day and Lia also includes different activities to help you reach out to others during this season of Advent.

Read Mark 1:1-4

1The beginning of the gospel about Jesus Christ, the Son of God.[a]
2It is written in Isaiah the prophet:
"I will send my messenger ahead of you,
who will prepare your way"[b]—
3"a voice of one calling in the desert,
'Prepare the way for the Lord,
make straight paths for him.' "[c] 4And so John came, baptizing in the desert region and preaching a baptism of repentance for the forgiveness of sins.
CANDLE TWO - The second candle (purple) "CANDLE OF PREPARATION" means His light and preparation. Preparation means to 'get ready'. "Help us to be ready to welcome YOU, O GOD!" (Luke 3:4-6)

Sunday – December 6 – Open Box #7
Verse Luke 3:4-6
A Voice of one calling in the desert, ‘Prepare the way for the Lord, make straight paths for him. Every valley shall be filled in, every mountain and hill made low, The crooked roads shall become straight, the rough ways smooth. And all mankind will see God’s salvation.
To prepare for Jesus’ coming to us we focus on him, listen to his words, and respond obediently to his directions
A gift to baby Jesus was a very simple one but it came from his heart and had great value. Gifts from the heart are the BEST ones you can give or receive this Christmas. Give the gift of yourself to others by helping around the house or helping your neighbors with little chores Most important, give Jesus a gift this Christmas and remember Him in all your celebrations. He loves you so much and wants to be near you this Christmas.
One of the easiest gifts to give is your TIME and service! Help your kids to see another way of giving other than with material objects by making use of these coupons--or create your own! This is a habit that should last all year!

Here's a cute little idea for a gift from a child to a special family member or friend. Find a small box and wrap it well with pretty paper. (Homemade stamped wrapping paper would be great!) Tie it up with a beautiful ribbon and write or print this message on a nice gift tag:

I took an ordinary box
As empty as can be
I filled it with a special gift
And wrapped it carefully.

But please don't ever open it
Just leave the ribbon tied
And hold it tightly near your heart
Because my love for you's inside!
Most important, give Jesus a gift this Christmas and remember Him in all your celebrations. He loves you so much and wants to be near you this Christmas.
As you pray tonight, tell Him how much you love Him. Ask Him to show you ways that you make Christmas meaningful to others this year.

Monday – December 7 – Open Box #8
Verse: Luke 2: 15-18
15When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, "Let's go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about."
16So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them.
The Story of the Candy Cane The true meaning of the Candy Cane
Look at the Candy Cane
What do you see?
Stripes that are red
Like the blood shed for me
White is for my Savior
Who's sinless and pure!
"J" is for Jesus My Lord, that's for sure!
Turn it around
And a staff you will see
Jesus my shepherd
Was born for Me!
Do you know some people who do not know Jesus? You could share the love of Jesus with them by copying this poem and giving them a homemade Candy Cane Gift.
You could do some sort of candy cane craft – example – have the kids attach the poem of the candy cane to a candy cane and let them give them out to friends/classmates – people at the store etc…
Prayer: Pray for those who do not know Jesus, ask the Lord to lead and direct you telling others about Jesus

Tuesday – December 8 – Open Box #9
Verse Luke 2:19
19But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart.
Activity: Make some time to go through your home and find any unused items that you can donate to charities or thrift store . Coats, clothes, shoes and boots, mittens, toys, appliances, kitchen ware, etc. There is also a Burmese family in our community that is starting with nothing – look at the list and see what we can give to them.

Wednesday – December 9 – Open Box #10
Verse: Luke 2:20 20The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.
Activity: Sing the 12 days of Christmas: Here is another way to look at it:
12 gifts of Christmas--from an earthly suitor or the Great Suitor of our hearts, take your pick!

On the first day of Christmas my true love gave to me...a partridge in a pear tree.
The partridge represents Christ. He acts as a mother partridge does, luring predators away from her babies and risking her life in their stead. (Read Luke 13:34)

On the second day of Christmas my true love gave to me...two turtle doves.
Two turtle doves stand for the Old and New Testaments of the Bible, God's love letter to mankind and "HiStory"!

On the third day of Christmas my true love gave to me...three French hens.
Three French hens are the three theological virtues of Faith, Hope and Love. (1 Corinthians 13:13)

On the fourth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...four calling birds.
The four calling birds represent the four Gospels---Matthew, Mark, Luke and John--which share the message which calls us to Christ.

On the fifth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...five gold rings.
The five gold rings are the first five books of the Old Testament, the Pentateuch. Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy give a sweeping overview of man's sinful nature, our need for redemption, and God's plan to save us!

On the sixth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...six geese a-laying.
The six geese represent the six days of creation. The eggs they lay are representative of life.

On the seventh day of Christmas my true love gave to swans a-swimming.
The seven swans are the seven gifts of the Holy Spirit: prophecy, service or ministry, teaching, exhortation, giving, leading and mercy or compassion.

On the eighth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...eight maids a-milking.
The eight maids stand for the eight Beatitudes. (Read Matthew 5:3-10)

On the ninth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...nine ladies dancing.
The nine ladies represent the nine fruits of the Holy Spirit: love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, generosity, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.

On the tenth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...ten lords a-leaping.
The ten lords are the ten commandments. (Read Exodus 20:1-17)

On the eleventh day of Christmas my true love gave to me...eleven pipers piping.
The eleven pipers stand for the eleven faithful apostles: Simon Peter, Andrew, James, John, Philip, Bartholomew, Matthew, Thomas, James bar Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, and Judas bar James.

On the twelfth day of Christmas my true love gave to me...twelve drummers drumming.
The twelve drummers represent the twelve fundamental points of the Apostle's Creed.
Prayer: Thank God for all the gifts he has given you!!
Thursday – December 10 – Open Box #11
Verse Luke 2:21b he was named Jesus, the name the angel had given him before he had been conceived.
Activity: Innotec Christmas Party – building toys 1 to keep – 1 to give away
Prayer Praise Him tonight for coming to earth and setting us free!

Friday – December 11 – Open Box #12
Verse Matthew 2:1-2
1After Jesus was born in Bethlehem in Judea, during the time of King Herod, Magi[a] from the east came to Jerusalem 2and asked, "Where is the one who has been born king of the Jews? We saw his star in the east[b] and have come to worship him
Activity: Family Night
Prayer: Can you believe it's Friday already? Wow! These weeks before Christmas really fly by in a hurry! It is now less than 2 weeks until Christmas and hopefully you are having the very best Christmas season ever. This time you are spending together as a family each evening will be what you will remember many years from now. Long after your gifts have been opened and forgotten, the memories of this time will live on in your hearts
Thank God for your FAMILY

Saturday – December 12 – Open Box #13
Verse Matthew 2:3-6
3When King Herod heard this he was disturbed, and all Jerusalem with him. 4When he had called together all the people's chief priests and teachers of the law, he asked them where the Christ[c] was to be born. 5"In Bethlehem in Judea," they replied, "for this is what the prophet has written:
6" 'But you, Bethlehem, in the land of Judah,
are by no means least among the rulers of Judah;
for out of you will come a ruler
who will be the shepherd of my people Israel.'[d]"
Activity: Make luminaries to light up your driveway /porch – or
Prayer: Pray that as we get closer to Christmas – let us shine Jesus’ light in all we do

Tyson's Christmas Program

On Thursday night we went to our first ever school Christmas program. It was a little insane. The doors opened at 6. We got there around 5 til and there were already a couple hundred (or more) people lined up outside in the cold, wet night. Darin spotted someone opening a side door and we quick ran in. The program was at Grace Community Church in Hudsonville, which had a huge auditorium, but by the time we got in it was already pretty full. Our friends, Rhine and Katie, were near the front of the line and they had saved a couple seats for us near the front, but off to the side. Thankfully the kindergartners were the first to perform right at 6:30, so I held wiggly Jori on my lap while Darin tried getting our video camera to work. He did not have any success. (We had some problems in Africa, which we thought we had fixed, but apparently we thought wrong.) Thankfully we had our digital camera, so we did take a couple videos on there.

Here is what Tyson looked like before the concert. Make sure you pay close attention to what he is wearing, because you may have to pick his sleeve out of the mass of children up on the stage in the videos!

Here is a a very grainy picture of Tyson on stage. He's between the kid with the tie and a girl with a black top on.
Here is the whole group on stage. The 1st grade is in the back, the kindergarten (3 classes) and the pre-k kids are in the front blocking my sweet Tyson.

And here are the videos. You cannot see Tyson, which is sad. Darin tried to zoom in, but the stage lights were SO bright and reflective on all the blonde headed dutch kids that it just produced a blinding light. Enjoy the music!

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Advent Calendar

This post follows the previous "Celebrating Advent" post. Please read that first.

Here are some ideas for the advent calendar. I am hoping to find a calendar like the one Lia is using for next year. Here are a couple pictures of it:

Advent Calendar ideas from Lia– each box consists of a piece of paper with the verses, activity and prayer for the day, a piece of candy for each kid, a puzzle piece (Lia bought a Christmas puzzle and each day her kids add one piece to the puzzle) , something that may go along with the activity (example – a snack bag of cinnamon for making cinnamon ornaments)

OR you could use things off of this list

1. Quarter--A quarter! That equals 25 cents. But 25 also stands for the number of days till Christmas, when God gave us His best present. Jesus told about one woman's gift and the way she gave it. Read: Mark 12:41-44

2. Grape Gum or Candy--Grapes make jelly and juice, raisins and wine. But Jesus didn't need grapes to perform His first miracle. Read: John 2:1-10

3. Smiley Face--Here's a smile! A smile usually expresses happiness. Jesus gave us many instructions to keep us happy. Read: Matthew 5:1-12.

4. Swedish Fish candy--Well, if you were surprised to find these fish, wait till you read the story today! Others were surprised to find fish, too. Read: Luke 5:4-7.

5. Birthday Candle--As you know, we are getting ready to celebrate Jesus' birthday. However, Jesus talked about something else that is related to this candle. Light! Read: Matthew 5:14-16.

6. Small Bell--You could make some noise with this. But it would not have bothered a certain man--until he met Jesus. Read: Mark 7:31-37.

7. Goldfish Crackers--These would not go very far if you were really hungry! But Jesus could make much out of little. Surely He knew how to multiply! Read: Matthew 14:13-21.

8. Cotton Balls--These cotton balls would be helpful in a thunder storm, wouldn't they? We could use them for ear plugs to muffle the loud noises that thunder makes. But we know someone who doesn't need cotton. Jesus can control the weather. Read: Matthew 8:23-27.

9. Piece of Map--People needing to use the other parts of this map are in trouble! Don't you get lost today! Read: John 14:1-6.

10. Soap--Do you like to wash? Behind your ears? Washing turned out to be a happy time for a man who met Jesus. Read: John 9:1-7.

11. Heart Candy or Sticker--Hearts. Wordlessly, they speak of love, don't they? Jesus spoke some commands about love. Read: Matthew 25:17-41.

12. Small Cross--We use the cross as a symbol, representing Jesus. Do you know why? Read: Philippians 2:1-11.

13. Packet of Salt--Ordinary salt. Yes, Jesus related salt to us and our behavior. He also gave us some advice. Read: Matthew 5:14 and Colossians 4:6. (Notice that He doesn't recommend pepper!).

14. Sand--Don't try to eat this! It's sand. It reminds us that Jesus knows something about architecture, about buildings--and building lives. See His instructions: Matthew 7:24-29.

15. Silk Flowers--Flowers are pretty, aren't they? Jesus used flowers to teach us a reassuring lesson. Read: Matthew 6:28-34.

16. Raisins--Raisins! Many children are given raisins instead of candy for a snack. That's because they are a health-promoting and delicious fruit. Jesus told us how we can produce good fruit. Read: John 15:1-5.

17. Seeds--Jesus told a story about seeds that man planted. Then He explained it, revealing its deep meaning. Read: Matthew 13:3-8 and Matthew 13:18-23.

18. Christmas Carol--Christmas is just about a week away. And here is an appropriate song. Sing it loudly! Read: Psalms 100.

19. Rock--A hard stone! Can you change this stone into a piece of bread? Do you think Jesus could? Jesus was asked to do just that. Do know how He handled it? Read: Matthew 4:1-4.

20. Crumpled Foil--Try to smooth out this piece of aluminum foil and use it as a mirror. It's hard to see your reflection plainly, isn't it? Many circumstances are hard to understand, but someday everything will be clear. Read: 1 Corinthians 13:12.

21. Mustard Seed (or packet of mustard)--The mustard seed is the smallest there is! When it sprouts, it grows into one of the largest plants! See what Jesus said. Read: Matthew 17:20.

22. Dove--We've learned that the cross represents Christ, but do you know what the dove stands for? Read: Matthew 3:13-17.

23. Scrap of Wool Material--The threads that compose this fabric came from the wool of a sheep. Jesus called Himself the good shepherd. Do you know who His sheep are? Read: John 10:7-18.

24. Marble--A marble! Do you know what is sometimes called the "Big Blue Marble"? The world. God made the world for us. What does God continue doing to the world? And who is the world? Read: John 3:16.

25. Picture of Baby--Isn't this baby cute? When he was born, he made a whole family happy. Jesus was born a baby, too. He came to make the whole world happy. Read: Luke 2:1-20. Enjoy your celebration today. Continue to learn about Jesus--and love Him forever!

Celebrating Advent

This year I wanted to celebrate Advent with our family. This is something that we haven't done before, even though I have had good intentions in years past. Thanks to the hard work and inspiration of my friend Lia, we have been spending time each night anticipating the coming of Emanuel, God with us. I had put a post on Facebook asking for advent ideas and Lia gladly passed on the following information that she put together for her own family. I was hoping she would post it on her blog, but she is the busy mom of 3 kids, including a new baby, so I asked her if I could post her great ideas on my blog. Thankfully she said yes.

We started our celebration on Sunday. EVEN IF you've missed a few days, it's not too late to join in!

A few notes from me:
You will notice after each of the dates, it says "Open Box 1 (2, 3,...)". Look for information on the boxes in the next post on my blog. We do not have an advent calendar and I have decided to skip this part for this year.

I have been keeping stuff pretty simple based on how old my kids are. You could do more or less depending on your family situation. We have been lighting the Advent candle after dinner. The first night I talked quite a bit about the candle, and now I see how much the kids remember about the candle. Then we read the day's verses (I printed them off, cut them in strips and the kids take turns each night pulling the strip out of my homemade holder) and talk about them briefly. We made a prayer chain (an idea you will read about) and one of the kids breaks off a name and we take turns praying for that person.

Lia is planning on sending me next weeks information as well and I will post it as soon as I get it. I am so glad she is willing to share these great ideas with all of us!

Here it is:

Week 1 – Isaiah 11:1-2, Jeremiah 23:5-6
Isaiah 11:1-2
Then a shoot will spring from the stem of Jesse,
And a branch from his roots will bear fruit.

The Spirit of the Lord will rest on Him,
The spirit of wisdom and understanding,
The spirit of counsel and strength,
The spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. (NASB)

Jeremiah 23:5-6
"Behold, the days are coming," declares the LORD,
"When I will raise up for David a righteous Branch;
And He will reign as king and act wisely
And do justice and righteousness in the land.

"In His days Judah will be saved,
And Israel will dwell securely;
And this is His name by which He will be called, 'The LORD our righteousness

Sunday November 29
Explain Advent – take out Advent Calendar – Start Wreath & Advent Candles
CANDLE ONE - Begin by lighting the first purple candle on the wreath. You will light this candle by itself for the entire first week of advent. The first purple candle is known as the prophecy/Hope candle. The color purple is a sign of penance and also represents the longing we have waiting for the birth of baby Jesus. Say aloud as you light the first candle, "Jesus is the light of the world."
The first candle (purple) “CANDLE OF HOPE" means His promise and hope. We can have hope because God is faithful and will keep the promises He made to us. Our hope comes from God. (Romans 15:12-13)

Monday – December 1 – Open Box #1
Isaiah 7:14 – Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Emmanuel
Create a prayer chain out of construction paper.
Using red and green paper, cut strips 8 inches long for each day of advent. Using a dark marker, write names on each of the strips for people that you would like to pray for during advent. You can also pray for groups of people or missions. Staple the first strip end to end. Looping the next strip through the first ring, staple its ends together. Repeat until all strips are linked and your prayer chain is complete. Some families like to make the last strip a prayer of thankfulness to God) (I was thinking that after we tear off a strip and pray for that person, we could mail it to the person we prayed for and explain what we are doing and what we prayed for)
Thank God for giving us this wonderful season surrounding the birth of Jesus. Thank Him for your family and all the blessings in your life. Ask him to help you keep your focus on HIM for the next 25 days

Tuesday – December 2
– Open box #2
Luke 2: 1-5 1In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. 2(This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) 3And everyone went to his own town to register.
4So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. 5He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.
Cinnamon Ornaments:
Break a paper off the prayer chain - Take turns with the closing prayer, remember to discuss the events of the day with each family member. How is the month of December going for everyone? It's a good time to discuss that Christmas is the season of "giving" and not receiving. Think of ways your family can help others in your neighborhood and community this season. Ask God to lead and direct you as you seek to serve Him by ministering to those in need this holiday season.
Light the first purple candle on the wreath. Be sure and light the same candle as you did last evening.

Wednesday – December 3
– Open Box #3
Luke 2:6,7 6While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, 7and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no room for them in the inn.
Isaiah 60:1 Arise, shine, for your light has come, and the glory of the Lord rises upon you.
As we read these promises, we long for their fulfillment. But we must wait patiently for God’s timing. He is in control of history and weaves together all our lives into his plan.
Phone call - Call someone you have been meaning to speak to, but for some reason you have not done so. (Stella in DC – it’s her birthday)
Start of the Puzzle pieces (I bought a kid small puzzle of the nativity scene – I put it together and then took the pieces apart in order and divided them up into the advent boxes. So by the end they have put the whole puzzle together)
Prayer :
Break off the next paper off the prayer chain - Talk as a family about promise of the coming Messiah. Isn't it amazing to know that God was planning our redemption from the very beginning of mankind. It is also comforting to know that while we may only see a tiny picture of the big puzzle, God sees the entire work at hand. We can trust Him with our everyday needs because He cares for us and has been planning for us since the beginning of time. Come to Him tonight in prayer and praise Him for His majesty and thank Him for His unconditional love.

Thursday – December 4
– Open Box #4
Luke 2:8-9 8And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. 9An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified
Revelation 22:16 I, Jesus, have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I am the root and the descendant of David, the bright morning star.
Star snowflake (make paper star snowflakes) and
– Angel Tree gifts – We have 2 gifts from the Angel Tree at Church/GEMS – Explain why they may be on the angel tree and how it is good to help others in times of need – It’s not always about what are we going to receive for Christmas, but on what we can GIVE to others!!
Prayer chain - Lord, may I be generous with others from the richness You have shared with me through Your goodness.
Count the many times in your life when God has been there for you in a time of need. Thank Him!

Friday – December 5 – Open Box #5
Luke 2:10-12
10But the angel said to them, "Do not be afraid. I bring you good news of great joy that will be for all the people. 11Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is Christ[a] the Lord. 12This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger."
Family Night - It's Friday evening! Friday night is a good night to designate as "Family Night." Keep this tradition all year and not just during Christmas. Pop some popcorn, rent a movie or play board games. The important thing is to spend time together as a family.
Close your family night with prayer making sure you take another prayer chain

Saturday – December 6
– Open Box #6
Luke 2:13-14 - 13Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying, 14"Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace to men on whom his favor rests."
Christmas Cards for the nursing home, those who may be lonely or Grandmas and Grandpas, Send a card to a friend or loved one who lost a family member during this year. Let them know you are praying from them and thinking of them this Christmas. Do you know some people who might be lonely this season? Why not share your creations with them and brighten their holidays. You could get together with a group of friends and visit nursing homes or hospitals. It's the little gestures of kindness that make a difference! Light your world this Christmas season!
Prayer Chain - Lord, I give over all my cares to you so that I may be at rest in You